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Maharaja Ranjit Singh and members of his court
Place of Origin: India or Pakistan, Punjab region
Date: approx. 1825
Materials: Opaque watercolors and gold on paper
Style or Ware: Pahari
Dimensions: H. 7 1/2 in x W. 9 1/4 in, H. 19 cm x W. 23.5 cm (imgae); H. 8 in x W. 10 in, H. 20.3 cm x W. 25.4 cm (overall)
Credit Line: Gift of the Kapany Collection
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 1998.97
On Display: No
Culture: Sikh

Description

Label:

white-bearded figure at the upper center of this painting, is remembered as the founder of the first unified Sikh kingdom, which at its height encompassed parts of present-day India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

This is one of numerous surviving images that show Ranjit Singh surrounded by figures who would have been familiar at his court. Although the painting lacks inscriptions, all the men can be tentatively identified since they appear in other, inscribed works. Seated behind Ranjit Singh are his oldest son, the heir apparent Kharak Singh, and his grandson Naunehal Singh. The man seated at the lower center is Sher Singh, another of the maharaja’s sons.


More Information

Exhibition History: "Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017
Additional Label:

Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), the whitebearded figure at the upper center of this painting, is remembered as the founder of the first unified Sikh kingdom-which, at its height, encompassed parts of present-day India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. As the Sikh presence in these regions grew, various officials began to commission their own portraits in addition to those of the maharaja and his closest advisors.

A curious feature of this painting is its depiction of Ranjit Singh openeyed and with his left side facing the viewer. Because a childhood bout with smallpox had blinded him and disfigured his left eye, the maharaja was almost always depicted facing in the opposite direction, thus hiding the imperfection.

This is one of numerous surviving images that show Ranjit Singh surrounded by figures who would have been familiar at his court. Although the painting lacks inscriptions, all the men can be tentatively identified since they appear in other, inscribed works. Seated behind Ranjit Singh are his son, heir apparent Kharak Singh, and his grandson Naunehal Singh. The man seated at lower center is Sher Singh, another of the maharaja's sons. Behind Sher Singh stands Suchet Singh, one of three Hindu brothers who were very influential at Ranjit Singh's court. The bearded man immediately facing Ranjit Singh is Suchet Singh's older brother Dhian Singh. The slightly older man behind Dhian Singh is Chattar Singh Attariwala, commander- in-chief of the Sikh armies. The lone man seated on the floor is Dina Nath, a high-caste Hindu from Kashmir who had been placed in charge of the kingdom's revenues and finances.

(In 1699 the name Singh, meaning "lion," began to be adopted by many Sikhs as an expression of solidarity. The name is not, however, exclusive to Sikhs.)


Label:

white-bearded figure at the upper center of this painting, is remembered as the founder of the first unified Sikh kingdom, which at its height encompassed parts of present-day India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

This is one of numerous surviving images that show Ranjit Singh surrounded by figures who would have been familiar at his court. Although the painting lacks inscriptions, all the men can be tentatively identified since they appear in other, inscribed works. Seated behind Ranjit Singh are his oldest son, the heir apparent Kharak Singh, and his grandson Naunehal Singh. The man seated at the lower center is Sher Singh, another of the maharaja’s sons.


Exhibition History: "Saints and Kings: Arts, Culture, and Legacy of the Sikhs", Asian Art Museum, 3/10/2017 - 6/18/2017
Expanded Label:

Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), the whitebearded figure at the upper center of this painting, is remembered as the founder of the first unified Sikh kingdom-which, at its height, encompassed parts of present-day India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. As the Sikh presence in these regions grew, various officials began to commission their own portraits in addition to those of the maharaja and his closest advisors.

A curious feature of this painting is its depiction of Ranjit Singh openeyed and with his left side facing the viewer. Because a childhood bout with smallpox had blinded him and disfigured his left eye, the maharaja was almost always depicted facing in the opposite direction, thus hiding the imperfection.

This is one of numerous surviving images that show Ranjit Singh surrounded by figures who would have been familiar at his court. Although the painting lacks inscriptions, all the men can be tentatively identified since they appear in other, inscribed works. Seated behind Ranjit Singh are his son, heir apparent Kharak Singh, and his grandson Naunehal Singh. The man seated at lower center is Sher Singh, another of the maharaja's sons. Behind Sher Singh stands Suchet Singh, one of three Hindu brothers who were very influential at Ranjit Singh's court. The bearded man immediately facing Ranjit Singh is Suchet Singh's older brother Dhian Singh. The slightly older man behind Dhian Singh is Chattar Singh Attariwala, commander- in-chief of the Sikh armies. The lone man seated on the floor is Dina Nath, a high-caste Hindu from Kashmir who had been placed in charge of the kingdom's revenues and finances.

(In 1699 the name Singh, meaning "lion," began to be adopted by many Sikhs as an expression of solidarity. The name is not, however, exclusive to Sikhs.)